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Friday, 17 May 2019

#BeBodyKind


Happy Friday my lovelies and welcome to my second post for mental health awareness week! 

The theme for this year's mental health awareness week is 'Body Image - how we think and feel about our bodies' and that's the topic of today's post. In a world of social media, the struggle with body image can be even harder and I think it is so important to create a dialogue where we can share our stories and support each other.

Like most teenagers, I really struggled with body image. I have always been a little curvier than most girls and I didn't understand why all my friends were slimmer than me. I 'blossomed' pretty early and remember hating how big my chest and hips were. I basically spent my entire teenage years trying to hide my body. I wouldn't dare wear anything that showed my figure and based my entire wardrobe around what made me look the slimmest. I distinctly remember going to the pool with my friend once and making a real effort to go from taking off my clothes to jumping in the pool as quickly as possible so nobody would see me in my swimming costume. I must have been about 15 at the time.

At 17 years old I then got chronically ill and spent a significant amount of the next 2 years essentially being bedridden. My body was struggling, I couldn't partake in much physical activity, even going for a walk was a struggle, and my relationship with food was pretty unhealthy too. Over those years I put on a ton of weight. Between the inactivity, poor eating habits and the physical stress of being so unwell, my body was shot. Once I had finished my treatment, it still took about a year before my body began to strengthen more and it wasn't until a year after that (the start of this year), that some of the weight started to come off. However, it was probably this last year that marked a turning point in my relationship with my body. Now I still have some way to go, but I can gladly say that right now, I love my body, despite its many floors. I consciously decide every single day that I love my body and all it does for me. Some days it is hard to love my body, and I just have to say 'today I don't like my body, but I'm still going to love it anyway', and sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't, and that is okay. Self-love is work and it's a journey but trust me you will get there.

Over this last year, I have discovered a few little tips and tricks that have helped me strengthen my relationship with my body and thought I would share them in case you want to give them a go. 

1. Have a social media cleanse.
Social media is wonderful and terrible all at once. It's full of inspiration and connection while also constantly filling your mind with the 'highlight reel' of everyone else who is more successful, prettier, happier or whatever other lies it spins. For me, Instagram was an issue as I was constantly looking at these flawless women who looked nothing like me. One day, I decided I'd had enough and I went through and unfollowed anybody whose posts made me unhappy. Guess what? You can do that! It doesn't mean their profile is bad, it just means you're proactively cutting out the negativity in your life. Once you've done this, I'd recommend following some accounts that inspire self-love and acceptance. One of my favourites at the moment is @i_weigh (an incredible movement by Jameela Jamil all about loving yourself and valuing yourself for more than your looks).

2. Prioritise self-care.
Taking time to care for yourself both mentally and physically does wonders for strengthening your relationship with yourself. Personally, some of my favourite ways include doing a face-mask, painting my nails, doing yoga, meditating and doing my hair. It completely depends on you and how you're feeling that day, but taking some time to look after and care for your body really helps you to connect with it. For me, seeing my body as something I have (that I can look after and care for) rather than something I am (and all I am) made a huge difference in how I view and love myself. 

3. Consciously choose gratitude.
Gratitude is immense in helping my mental health and this stems down to self-love. I am pretty sure there have been studies showing just how beneficial gratitude can be and I have definitely felt the effects in my own life too. With regard to accepting my body, once I shifted my mind to a space of gratitude for my body, things really shifted. Now, this was really hard for me at first because I was mad at my body. It had gotten ill and that illness had taken my life away from me at the time, so my body and I were not on speaking terms. However, starting small, I managed to build this up to being well and truly grateful for my body and all it has done for me. If you're just starting out, I would recommend just trying, every morning as you're getting ready for the day, to look in the mirror and tell yourself 3 things you are grateful for about your body (bonus points if you can do this naked- yet it feels weird but weirdly empowering). It can be anything big or small, but I personally find it's better to try and avoid surface level things (such as 'I am so grateful for my legs because they are so slim') because you want to try and distance your relationship with your body from that sense of value from looks. 

4. Give yourself some time
My final tip is simply to give yourself some time. Forgive yourself when you slip up and allow yourself some time. No good relationship can be formed overnight and it is no different than your relationship with your body. Keep making those conscious decisions to connect with yourself and over time that relationship will grow and strengthen.

I think the common misconception with self-love is that in order to love your body, it has to be perfect. You have to be the right weight and toned in all the right areas and it has to be healthy and then we can love our body. We will love our body when we look like this/ when I feel like this/ when this has happened. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it doesn't really work like that. Self-love really truly comes from the inside and it takes work and perseverance and persistence. But you know the great thing about that? You can start right now. 

Let's start right this second. Tell me one thing you absolutely love about your body, something you are so grateful for. For me, I really love my legs and I am so grateful for everything they allow me to do. Without them, I couldn't dance or walk around the lake or do yoga. They are not the strongest or slimmest or longest but I love them just as they are.




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Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Daily steps to boost your mental health.


Happy mental health awareness week my lovelies!

Did you know that approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year? That's a quarter of the entire UK!
(Mind.org.uk)

Personally, I tend to keep my mental health pretty private (not saying this is necessarily a good thing) and so I haven't really touched much on the topic on my blog. I haven't been diagnosed with a mental disorder but over the last few years, I have definitely become much more aware of my mental health and been working to try and improve it. With that being said, I thought today I would share some super easy, yet very effective, steps I take every day to boost, maintain and manage my mental health. A little disclaimer: These are just things that have worked for me and doesn't necessarily mean they will work for you. Everybody is different and you may find other ways that work better for you. Keep searching!

1. Get outside.
I am almost certain you will have heard this before, but for a good reason! I am such a country girl and being in nature almost immediately shifts my mental space to a much calmer and happier place. Recently, I have been trying to get into the habit of forcing myself outside when I feel myself spiralling. Just an aimless walk outside, to focus on my breathing, maybe listen to some music, really helps bring my focus to the moment and away from whatever has sparked my spiral.

2. Utilise those first few hours of the day.
Have you ever heard the phrase, 'win the morning, win the day'? Personally, my morning can really set the tone for my day, and using those first few hours to set the tone, immediately makes the rest of my day a little easier. For me, this might involve avoiding my phone, listening to some happy music, going for a walk, planning my day or a bit of yoga and meditation. You can find what works for you and just spend those hours allowing your brain to breathe before you start the day.

3. Connect with your body.
You can interpret this in whatever way suits you. This can range from physical to emotional to mental and how you perceive this may depend on the day too! Physically this could be going to the gym, a dance class, perhaps a little yoga. Emotionally you may want to try journalling or creating some form of art. Mentally this could include meditation. I personally like to try to incorporate something from each section, but some days you may feel the need to prioritise one area more than another. Take each day as it comes. I just find that connecting with my body helps me process my thoughts and feelings and helps me become more present too.

4. Find your mantra's.
As with everything else, you have to find what works for you here. I find it so beneficial to have a mantra or two that I can call upon when I find my mental health struggling. If I find myself feeling overwhelmed, anxious or just not right, repeating a little mantra to myself can help bring me back to the present moment and help shift my thoughts to a more logical space. My favourite mantra at the moment is 'You are here, in this moment, just living your life'. Even typing it now makes me feel a little better. Find your own mantra that connects to you and reminds you of what you need to focus on.

5. Make time for the little things.
We all have those little things in life that bring us joy and sometimes we need to schedule in time to enjoy them before life gets too busy. This could be playing the piano, painting a picture, reading a novel, gardening, playing on the trampoline, whatever it may be! I personally would try to avoid anything too techy, such as a video game, as having that separation has made such an impact on my mental health. 

So there we have my 5 simple steps to boost your mental health. It can seem a little overwhelming reading it all in a list like this, but I recommend taking them one step at a time. This week, maybe try to get outside every day, just for a week. Even a walk around the block can help. After a week, did you feel a difference? Now the next week, you could make a real effort to utilise your mornings. Just go from there!

Mental health affects all of us and whether you suffer from a disorder or not, I think we could all benefit from implementing a few daily steps to boost, maintain or manage our mental health.

Do you have any daily steps you take for self-care?


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Thursday, 9 May 2019

Ya girl's got commitment issues.


Hey. It's me again. Only 4 months after my last post... oops. Look, I think it's pretty evident by this point, ya girl's got commitment issues. I say I want to blog more. I say how much I love it. I say how important it is to me. Yet for some unknown reason, I just cannot commit to it! Unfortunately for me, this is actually a bit of a pattern in my life these days and let me be the first to say, I am not a fan. 

They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, right? So here I am. Admitting it. I get so excited about things. I fall in love with hobbies and skills and tasks... and then I just don't finish them, or I don't give them my all and then call it quits. It's a real problem and I think I need to figure out why this keeps happening. We love a bit of introspection don't we ladies (and guys who I will likely to still refer to as ladies). 

Firstly, let's take a glance back at my childhood (don't worry we are not going full-on childhood trauma here haha). As a child, I was a bit of a club-hopper. I very distinctly remember joining Brownies (I think this is kind of the UK girl-scout equivalent) and loving it. After a little while, it was time to buy the Brownie uniform ready for my little swearing in ceremony thing where I became an official Brownie. I can literally picture my mum standing there is the shop saying to me 'If I buy you all of this uniform, you have to promise you will stick with it' to which I responded something along the lines of 'Yes, I promise I will'. Somewhere between a few weeks to a few months later, my promise was broken as I decided Brownies was not for me. Sorry mum!

This situation repeated itself in some way or another, many times over my childhood/teenage years. There were certain things I stuck with for longer such as dance (although I was part of three different studios), choir and ice skating, but generally, I would tire and move onto my next obsession. Now, I am not saying this is always a bad thing. Since starting uni, I have come to love my 'multipotentialite' (see this TED talk to understand this reference) ways and grown to see just how valuable having multiple interests is. I get really excited and passionate about the things I love and throw myself into them. The issues comes a little later, usually when things get a little more difficult or somewhat boring and I just ... quit! I am little more aware of it these days and have a little (and I mean little) more self-discipline to hold my self accountable, but it is still an issue.

Another contributing factor to my ~commitment issues~ is possibly my past health issues. I have been pretty open about my struggling health over the years and boy has it taken a toll on me in almost every way possible. With regards to this specific issue (let's ignore all my other issues, for now, haha) over these years where my poor health has ruled my life, I have kind of been forced to let go of the possibility of commitment. By this I mean, I have had to let things go and straight up just quit sometimes because I have physically not been able to continue them. Now I know this isn't the same situation but I think as a result, knowing the dangers of pushing my self and the disastrous after-effects of doing so, I prematurely end things in fear of it getting to that point again. I mean it kind of makes sense when you think about it. 

So, maybe it's my personality, a result of my thinking patterns or the consequence of psychological trauma. Either way, it's an issue. But hey, they say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, right? 

Well I, my friends, have commitment issues. 

Cheers!



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Monday, 7 January 2019

A blogmas fail and a happy new year.


I guess this is going to be my first post of 2019. I love my blog and I was really feeling like 2019 was going to be the year I dedicated to my blog, but unfortunately life has had a different idea.

Firstly let me say how gutted I am that I failed at Blogmas 2018. This was my first ever attempt at Blogmas and honestly, considering my troubles with consistency, the fact I made it to day 11 was pretty impressive to me. Here is a little explanation as to why I failed (in the wonderful words of some well known person, it is only a failure if you fail to learn from it). Firstly, shiz got busy. I finished my Autumn semester on the 14th of December and that final week was busy. I had an assignment to stress over and bags to pack and socialising to do (because we made it through our first semester woooo!) and I was ill (more on that in a minute) and something had to drop. That something unfortunately being Blogmas. However, I really did love doing Blogmas and already am getting excited at the thought of trying it again this year. 

Now lets talk health. I have been pretty open with my health on my blog over the last few years as I have had my fair share (arguably more than my fair share) of struggles. Well, here we are facing another health struggle. This is the primary reason for my lack of blogging lately and why I almost didn't write this post. So here is my issue. I have had a headache everyday for 80 days straight. Along with these joyous headaches I would get vision problems. Then, on Boxing Day, I woke up with the headache, my eyes had gone funny and well, it's been that way ever since. Before, the headaches while annoying and a little concerning, were not consistent. Today is day 12 of my consistent headache and vision problems. There has not been one minute in the last 12 days that my head has not hurt and no medication is even touching it. It gets worse at certain points in the day. I get pretty bad nausea. My eyes are struggling and I just don't feel like myself. It's pretty scary stuff and has totally taken over my life.

Along with exams to revise for and assignments due, you can probably see why I have been struggling. Looking back at my past heath issues, I wish I had documented more. I was worried I would come off as whiney or dramatic or attention seeking, and so I held back until a good way into my health issues. While I don't know how serious or long lasting these current health issues will be compared to my Lyme journey (hopefully not as long!!!) I still want to document it. I want to document more of my life on here. The good, the bad and everything in-between.

However, this presented me with an issue. I want to blog and I want to document my life more vulnerably, but physically I am not in a place to be giving my blog the time and energy it requires for my posts to be of a good quality. So I was left with a question; do I blog at a lower quality than I would like or do I give blogging a break until my health is improved? 

I have been giving it a lot of thought and considering why I started blogging in the first place, have decided to just try upload some shabby posts. It breaks my heart a little but it won't be forever, and I know I will be grateful for these posts in the future. 

Now how was that for a long, chatty ramble.
I hope you're all slaying the new year and if you're not, be kind to yourself and try again tomorrow.

Peaks and valleys my friends, peaks and valleys.



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Tuesday, 11 December 2018

The Christmas Blogger Tag | Blogmas 2018 | Day 11



What blogmas is complete without a Christmas tag? Not this one! For todays post I will be answering the infamous Blogger Christmas tag and I am so excited! I am a sucker for a tag whether I be reading, writing or watching it, I love a little nosey into someones life. So it feels only fitting to partake myself (even though I wasn't exactly tagged). If you decide to give the tag ago, let me know! I would love to read it!

What is your favourite Christmas film/s?
Ok this is such a difficult question for me because I honestly love them all! In fact, some of my favourite festive films have been those cheesy Hallmark ones on the Christmas movie channel. But, if I had to pick a favourite, it's got to be elf! It is an absolute classic and I never ever tire of it. *Contemplates stopping writing to go and watch elf*

Do you open your presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
Christmas morning, although we usually get to open a present on Christmas eve that is usally pyjamas or some cosy clothing to snuggle down in! I have actually never heard of people opening all the presents on Christmas eve... is that a thing?

Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?
I feel really fortunate in that all my Christmas memories are full of love and laughter. But, if i had to pick one, I would have to say the year my sister and I both got our first Nintendo DS. We wanted them so badly and there was pure excitement when we opened them. I believe our conversation went a little something like this... *we opened them at the same time but my sister got into hers a little quicker than me* My sister: Oh my gosh. I am going to scream in 3...2... Me: *screams* My sister: 1! *screams*. We then proceeded to play on them all day! Now I really want to go play animal crossing on my DS and pay my sister 300 bells to de-weed my whole town.

Favourite gift?
There are so many! My family are such great gift givers I guess. I mean, if I had to pick, the DS I just mentioned is definitely up there!

Favourite festive food?
Ok now this is a difficult one. Everything about festive food is to die for. Literally the best time of the year and the reason I end Christmas 30lbs heavier. I think it might be a toss up between pigs in blankets and yule log!

Favourite festive scent?
Being in Uni halls this year, I haven't had a chance to burn my favourite Christmas candles like I normally do, so I am really struggling with this question. Literally anything that makes me think 'Christmas!' I adore. 

Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?
We always do the one comfy gift thing as I mentioned before, but we also usually do something with my Dad which is always so much fun. It used to be the pantomime, but now we usually go to the cinema. Now that everyone is getting older, I really love having that time to just be with my family and do something together. I literally love spending time with my family and it's always a real laugh. This is kind of the moment that actual Christmas begins for me.  I love it!

What tops your tree?
I think it's usually either a star or an angel, depending what we get to first in the Christmas decor box. 

 As a kid what was the one (crazy, wild, extravagant) gift you always asked for but never received?
I honestly cannot remember and the things I would do to read my old Santa letters with my wish list! It was probably some super overprices Bratz toy or a giraffe or something.

What’s the best part about Christmas for you?
As cliche as it sounds, it's just spending time with my family.  Cooking with my mum, watching my brothers and sisters open their gifts, snuggling down for the festive films and tv,  seeing everyones reactions to the gifts I gave them and of course playing the Christmas games. *I am litterly getting so excited writing this!*

So there we have the Christmas Blogger Tag! I really do love a good blogger tag and if you're reading this, then I tag you! 

I hope you're having a lovely day and I will speak to you tomorrow,

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